Large List of Top SEO Mistakes to Avoid
Search engine optimization is a perennial exercise. Companies must continuously improve their SEO strategy to sustain the current rank and to gradually move ahead of the competition. Any long term campaign must be reviewed periodically. Fitting changes must be brought in if a specific tactic or the larger strategy is not working. SEO is a complex process. There are plenty of components, some of them quite dynamic to be left alone without any intervention from time to time. SEO is so complicated that even the best in the business may commit a few mistakes. It is imperative for all companies to be aware of the SEO mistakes to avoid. Here is a comprehensive list of the most common mistakes.
SEO performance must be tracked. There are a few immeasurable effects of search engine optimization. These become obvious in due course of time. Other impacts are measurable. These should be assessed, ideally in real time. Tracking SEO performance is not that hard. There are plenty of tools, reporting and analytical software, apps and other methods of tracking and measuring the performance. One must invest a fair amount of time and effort. Tracking SEO performance is not a costly exercise either. SEO can be improved only when one knows it is not working, where, why and how.
Search engine optimization has several key performance indicators or KPIs. It is necessary to track and assess the right KPIs. Many companies focus on the rankings. Website rankings are important and search engine optimization must improve them in due course of time. However, it cannot be a metric to assess the effects of search engine optimization in real time or to review the day-to-day progress. Growth in organic search traffic is a better key performance indicator. Website rankings do not hover or fluctuate by the hour. Most rankings take a while to change because search engines like Google need time to process the changes made by all the websites in a specific category, assess their performances and then determine if their position should be boosted, unchanged or prodded down.
The most important objective of search engine optimization is to generate sufficient traffic. The website rankings, page rank, domain authority and all other aspects of search engine optimization are only the building blocks. They serve as important metrics but none of these matter if there is no or limited traffic. This brings in the importance of return on investment. It is futile to chart out a plan of action and begin working on search engine optimization without having a fairly accurate estimate of return on investment. Guesswork and even educated speculation do not work. Every action should be taken after calculating the return on investment. The return on investment is not always monetary. Companies should use the most definitive change as the return on investment. For instance, the return could be a certain improvement in website ranking. The return could be a specific increase in daily organic traffic from the search engines to the website.
SEO audit is similar to a financial audit. Just as a financial audit can lay bare everything that has gone right and all that have gone wrong, an SEO audit can do the same with the entire search engine optimization campaign. The minutest errors can be identified and flagged. The most effective tactics can be acknowledged. Only an SEO audit and that too done by an expert will find the strengths and weaknesses of a campaign. A company can use the report to improve what is working and discard what is not. SEO audits can help companies understand their campaign much better than what they knew about it during conceptualization and implementation. SEO audits can help companies to make the best decisions pertaining to search engine optimization.
The architecture of a website plays an important role, not just for the webmaster to define the sitemap and for visitors to have an easy time navigating the interface. Google and other search engines use site architecture as a guide. The crawlers rely on the architecture to understand a website, how the various pages are linked and what the content is really about. This helps Google and others to index the site properly and quickly. Every new webpage is crawled and indexed. The site architecture is more important than many people realize. The architecture influences the authority of every webpage and the website as a whole. Ranking pages for specific keywords becomes easier with strong architecture. The architecture also influences conversions. A well mapped architecture will efficiently direct and redirect visitors to important pages so they can be convinced to sign up.
User interface and web design has never mattered more. There was a time when people would patiently wait for a website to load. There was an era when people would dislike the design, layout, navigation and user interface but continue to use a website owing to a lack of option. Those times and the era are long gone. According to a report published by Adobe, an estimated 38% of all internet users do not engage with a site if the layout and the content are unappealing. UX or user experience, which includes UI or user interface, can be improved by ensuring the website loads quickly, the site should be mobile friendly or have a responsive design to suit all browsers and devices, there should not be interstitial pop-ups and definitely not the aggressive ones and disruptive ads should be done away with. UX should also be improved to suit the user intent. Every visitor has a purpose or an objective. That should be met. UX influences visitor satisfaction and hence time spent on website and subsequently how search engines value the particular site.
This may sound like a nonstarter but more people commit this mistake. This is actually one of the most common SEO mistakes to avoid. Companies often begin targeting all keywords they think are relevant and important. Every industry or type of business can have hundreds of potential keywords. It is not necessary to start targeting all hundreds of them at the same time. Targeting too many keywords means there is less time for research. Many of those keywords, while relevant in the niche, may not be important given the nature of the search engine optimization campaign. Websites that do not have sufficient authority cannot accomplish much by targeting keywords that have high competition. New and low ranked websites should always target keywords that have less competition. This is not a dead end. More competitive keywords can be targeted later as the website builds its authority and attains better ranks in the near future.
SEO is not a onetime campaign. It is not an endgame by itself. It is an ongoing process. This does not mean there should not be definitive goals. Every business has annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly revenue targets. Likewise, every SEO campaign or the whole strategy as an integrated process should have short term and medium term objectives. These goals should be well defined. A company can decide to aim for fifty percent increase in organic search traffic in three months. The numbers as defining parameters can change of course. It is the intention and clarity that are important. Companies should understand that there is no perfect goal, as there is not impeccable search engine optimization campaign. One will still need to make changes, adapt and evolve over time. Having a well defined goal paves the way for some definitive action and there is a criterion to assess the impact of search engine optimization at the end of the assigned period of time. The goal may not be about traffic always. It can pertain to quality links, creating certain types of new content or something entirely else but within the realm of search engine optimization.
It is one thing to know who the competitors are. It is a completely different ballgame to understand what those competitors are doing with their own search engine optimization strategies. A company must understand the competition strictly within the confines of SEO. The competitors are likely to do a few things right and they will have weaknesses in their campaigns. These weaknesses must be identified if one has to gain some leverage. Studying the competition also offers analytical insights. One gets a better understanding of how search engine optimization is working in their niche.
This is quite common. Search intent is the purpose of internet users when the look for something online. User intent can be informational, comparison, transaction or navigational. The intent may not be limited to any one purpose. The specific user intent must be addressed and satisfied with the optimized content. Search engines like Google pay a lot of attention to user intent. Studying keywords being used by the target audience can easily lay out the intents. Different words are used by people that clearly define their intent. A company should be aware of these and must address them with their optimized contents. Addressing user intent also helps in improving the user experience, including user interface. Websites that satisfy user intent have visitors spending more time on a relevant webpage, more people will visit the website multiple times, and many will convert, from a visitor to a lead or a lead to a customer.
Every company must create unique content. This is easier said than done. There is only so much one can do when the worldwide web already has billions of pages of precious information. Very few businesses have a completely new product or service to offer. Hence, they have to use the same types of informational content to connect with their target audiences. Even if the industry, category or subcategory and the nature of a business are similar to those that already exist, there can always be a new and unique way of engaging with the audience. Emulating others lead a website to the same fate, in most cases a poorer consequence as others have already grabbed the more premium placements. Those who create content must exercise their freedom and harness the power of their creativity to come up with unique pages.
Unique content does not have to be long or short. It can just be different. What any piece of content should be is thin or lacking in depth. This attribute does not pertain to word count. It is true that a very short piece of text may not offer much value and hence is thin, but a long article or blog post does not always bring anything new to the table. Hundreds of thousands of websites have the same types of content, simply reproduced and many have the same tonalities. Google is looking for contents that offer something of value. Users are looking for valuable content. A website that delivers value will perform well.
No one may accept the fact or concede but the truth is many use duplicate content. Plagiarizing has become easier and harder in recent times. There are plagiarism checkers available today that can easily flag duplicate content. Copyright laws have become stricter and Google among other search engines have also become more alert, responsive and effective at getting rid of duplicate content. However, access to information also means people find it easy to simply replicate what is already there. The new piece may emulate the original or it can be a complete copy paste job. Plagiarized content is unacceptable. Duplicating content, even in ways that make the new piece noticeably different, is a futile tactic. Users easily identify websites that have content inspired or simply duplicated from other sites. Companies must stop using webpage contents of their competitors as reference when instructing their writers what to conceive.
This is one of the most common SEO mistakes to avoid. Every webpage must be optimized. There should be onsite and offsite optimization. On-page or onsite optimization is not limited to sprinkling a few keywords to make the content relevant. Onsite optimization includes everything from the title tag to meta description, the headers and footers, headings and subheadings, the body content and all the links that appear on the webpage. These links include both internal and external outgoing links.
There are different types of contents in the context of time and hence relevance. Some contents are evergreen. The history of a company is evergreen content. It can have new information added but the old piece does not have to be replaced or changed. There are other examples of such evergreen content. Old product pages can still be on the site, perhaps archived if they are not relevant anymore. Then there is transient content. These types of contents are used from time to time to leverage something. It could be seasonal content focusing on sales or discounts. The strategy may be to capitalize on a grand event. These contents serve no purpose when the event or occasion is gone. Every webpage content should be reviewed for the utility it has beyond a certain point in time. Old contents should be changed, updated, replaced or archived. Some old contents have to be taken off the site.
Long tail keywords are phrases or sentences. These are usually more descriptive and definitive than normal keywords. A normal keyword may be just the name of a product or its type, a kind of service or the crux of a search. A long tail keyword contains more words, not always specific but relevant given the context of the search. Many companies target only the normal keywords. Long tail keywords should be targeted more often. In most cases, regardless of industry, long tail keywords have better traction than normal ones. This is primarily because people use long tail keywords in an attempt to get more relevant search results. Those who address this user intent will always fare better, get more traffic and attain a higher rank.
Companies always have an eye on traffic and the website rank. These two are definitely indicators of whether or not a search engine optimization strategy is working. Another significant indicator is the click through rate or CTR. This is a metric that can be used to assess whether or not people are clicking on links after seeing them and reading the meta descriptions. Every page of search engine results has several links. People are likely to click on the first few but they are also drawn to the ones at the bottom if the descriptions address the user intent. This is where click through rate gets really interesting. It is not always for the topmost ranked websites to grab attention. Slightly lower ranked websites with better titles or headings and descriptions can easily outperform others and generate more organic traffic. Companies should use enticing titles, captivating words and compelling descriptions to drive more traffic. The purpose is not just to increase exposure or visibility. The real deal is to get more people to click on the link and get redirected to the website.
The importance of external links or backlinks is evident. This has propelled many companies to focus on link wheels and link building campaigns. It is true that a website needs quality inbound links for the pages to be deemed authoritative. What also matters is internal linking. Every authoritative page on a website should be properly linked to other pages on the same website. A new webpage should also be linked to a high authority page on the site. A new webpage does not have a legacy. It has to ride on the popularity and credibility of the rest of the website. If a new webpage is linked appropriately to a high authority page on the same site, it gets an instant boost as search engine crawlers identify the two pages to be related. Internal linking helps with indexing and immediately assigns some significance to the new webpage when it is connected to a high authority page.
Websites do not exist in isolation anymore. People are always talking about companies, sharing links to websites on social media, citing specific pages as sources, referring to available information and there is a lot of bustling activity happening all the time. Every link is traced by search engines. Every citation is taken into consideration when it is properly linked. In an intertwined virtual world, relationships matter and every website can fare better with a bit of boost from influencers. High authority websites mentioning a reference to another site will immediately boost the credibility of the latter. Writers, popular personalities and influencers, celebrated bloggers and high authority websites in a niche should be approached and a relationship should be built over time. The growing web of links and influence affects search engine optimization and subsequently website ranking.
Internal links are completely within the control of a webmaster. Outgoing links, whether within the website or beyond, can be conceived and implemented as and when needed. The linking strategy is not limited to these outgoing links. Back links are important. One reality webmasters and companies should understand is that all links are not created and placed in the same manner. Back links can be generated. They may be organically created by other websites and people, without a company having any role to play in it. This type of back link can be useful, harmful or without consequence. All back links are not desirable. Back links on low quality sites can harm the reputation of a website. Every company should try to play an active role in how the whole link wheel shapes up and how it changes over time. Bad links should be removed. Quality links should be encouraged and preserved. Just as the search engine optimization strategy must be reviewed from time to time, the linking or link building tactics should also be assessed and changed, if necessary.
Anchor text serves an important purpose on every webpage and for all types of content. The anchor text must be optimized. But it should never be optimized excessively. It should not be overused. Popular wisdom is using the primary keyword for the anchor text. This is not the right approach. The anchor text should be branded. The primary keyword can always find prominence in the content, throughout the body and even in title tag, meta description and url structure. The brand should find a mention in the anchor text. This does not mean the anchor text cannot contain a primary keyword. This should happen in opportune cases. When a piece of content is undoubtedly the best or much superior in its niche, using the most important keyword in the anchor text can reap rich dividends.
Some companies have inconsistent information spread around the web. The name and address, phone number and website should be mentioned accurately on all virtual platforms, including social network profiles and social media accounts. Companies often do not have a review generation strategy. Many do not work on retargeting. All links and contents should be optimized for conversions. Generating traffic and ranking a website higher are two priorities but not at the cost of digressing from the goal of conversion. Most companies do not build systems for search engine optimization. This is primarily because the rules of the game change far too often. A system is seen redundant and even irrelevant. This is not true. The basic foundation of search engine optimization does not change much. There should be a core system and it should be flexible enough to evolve and adapt.
Every company should have a core team working on its search engine optimization campaigns. This team should have experts in every aspect of SEO. The team may include staff on payroll, an SEO agency and internet marketing company, independent or self employed professionals and others. It is nearly impossible for any one individual or professionals with expertise in some aspects of SEO to devise the most effective strategy. Other common SEO mistakes to avoid is failing to iterate, presuming that search engine optimization is not the most important bedrock of digital marketing, not using trends to gain leverage and using only one major source of traffic and not all such as search engines, social media, email and content delivery networks.
Search engine optimization has changed dramatically in the last few years. This does not mean it has become less important. If anything, search engine optimization matters more now than ever before and it is the most empowering practice for new websites. Companies should study Google webmaster guidelines, SERP features, branded search strategy, click through rate, page and domain authorities to improve their SEO strategy. Many SEO strategies are inflexible. Agility is quintessential. Rigid content development and marketing tactics do not work. Organic and inorganic search engine optimization must coexist and be utilized to their full potential. Companies must also look beyond Google. It is the largest search engine in the world but not the only one. Its subsidiary YouTube is the second largest search engine but the likes of Bing also matter.
Search engine optimization is a never ending exercise. Thus, it should be phased. A company does not have to get every webpage rank high for its targeted keyword. The entire website does not have to rank well for all the relevant keywords in the industry or for the type of business one has. It is better and also easier to take one step at a time. Target one keyword, rank a webpage high enough for this and boost the authority of the website. Target another keyword, rank well for it and then explore others. Most companies have limited resources. If the scope of search engine optimization is massive at the outset then the resources will be exhausted. Instead of stressing and exhausting the available resources, a company should use them wisely and in a phased manner. It is better to rank high for one or a few keywords than have an insignificant presence targeting all keywords in an industry or for a type of business.
Search engine optimization is a long term game. There will be positive and negative developments en route. One must be patient. It is necessary to avoid missing the woods for the trees. At the same time one must not forget the importance of specific metrics or key performance indicators. Also, search engine optimization does not exist in isolation. It is one of the most important components of digital marketing but there are other elements too. Effective search engine optimization improves digital marketing. Successful digital marketing in other forms also boosts the effects of search engine optimization. Companies that rely on experts, learn on the go and improve their game constantly will always emerge as the winners in the war of search engine optimization and digital marketing.